A man taught to swim as an adult is now helping to teach the skill to the next generation taking to the pool.
Martin Gallagher realised he needed to learn to swim when his hiking hobby took him close to rivers and lakes.
Now the 27-year-old from Sunderland is leading lessons after Everyone Active helped him through his National Pool Lifeguarding qualification and then his Swim England level one and two Swim Teacher accreditation.
Martin, who previously worked as a data analyst in the city, said: “I never learnt how to swim when I was younger and it had never been something I thought about doing.
“It wasn’t until I began to take hiking more seriously and started venturing close to open water that I realised how important it was for my safety.
“I began swimming lessons at Sunderland Aquatic Centre in June 2016.
It wasn’t until I began to take hiking more seriously and started venturing close to open water that I realised how important it was for my safety.Martin Gallagher
“I found I really enjoyed the sessions and accelerated through my classes, becoming one of the fastest.
“It was then that I decided to take on a new challenge and become a lifeguard.”
Everyone Active, which runs leisure centres on behalf of Sunderland City Council, part-funded Martin’s lifeguard qualification and offered advice and support throughout his training. A year after he started his swimming lessons, Martin qualified and started working at Sunderland Aquatic Centre.
After working as a lifeguard for 12 months, Martin realised that he wanted to teach others this life-saving skill and started to lead lessons last month.
Martin added: “Everyone Active were fantastic at supporting me through my lifeguard and swim teacher qualifications.
“I’ve seen first-hand the benefits of learning this life-saving skill, and I can’t wait to begin teaching my own classes in the New Year and helping others stay safe in water.”
Ian Bradgate, Everyone Active’s contract manager said: “Martin’s journey with us is inspirational.
“He has shown that it is never too late to learn how to swim and I would encourage anyone who is looking to learn this important skill find out more about our fantastic adult swim lessons.
“Martin is dedicated to teaching others learn to swim, and recognises just how important it is to learn this life-saving skill.
“We are really looking forward to seeing Martin deliver his first swimming lessons in the New Year.”
More information on Everyone Active’s swimming lessons and apprenticeship opportunities is available via www.everyoneactive.com.